Bandaru Dattatreya calls slavery index ‘data wrong’, says will carry out survey on bonded labour

New Delhi: The government will soon conduct a nation-wide survey to ascertain the number of bonded labourers in India.

This is significant in light of findings by Australian Rights group Walk Free Foundation, which claimed India has the highest number of people globally trapped in modern slavery. “The government will soon conduct a country-wide survey to know the number of bonded labourers,” Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in New Delhi.

Elaborating, Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal said: “We are yet to decide on the time of the survey and which agency will do it, but there is a thought that the states should do the survey in their respective areas.” Calling into question the 2016 Global Slavery Index released by the Foundation, Dattatreya said: “They say there are about 1.8 crore bonded labourers, but they don’t say where they got these figures from.”

According to the slavery index, India has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of people globally in modern slavery, with 18.35 million victims of forced labour, ranging from prostitution to begging. “There are NGOs that are working against the interest of India and are trying to defame the country. Their data are wrong,” the minister said.

Dattatreya also spoke of the recent International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva in Switzerland, where discussions were held with the member countries on labour laws concerning global supply chain and outsourcing. “We have said India will take a stand only after thorough consultation on this issue and the Labour Ministry will soon discuss it with the Ministry of External Affairs, the MSME and Commerce ministries,” Dattatreya said.

India will host the meeting of BRICS labour ministers in Hyderabad next month. He also added that International Labour Organisation (ILO) DG Guy Ryder will be visiting India on July 9-11 and meeting several ministers and officials.